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MODELS AND THE STAGE 


THE 

POOR SCHOOL 


The Poor School was founded by 
Paul Caister in 1986. 34 year old 


by Alexander Baron 


Paul trained as an actor at the 
Bristol Old Vic, and is a director 
by profession. He didn't set out 
to found a drama school, it just 
happened. The name refers to 
'economy and austerity on 
stage', not to the poverty of its 
students but the Poor School is a 
registered charity and is funded 
partly by donations, partly by 
fees which it keeps to a mini- 
mum. Last year the school audi- 
tioned some three hundred 
aspirant actors and actresses for 
a mere 24 places. 

Over its four year existence Paul 
claims it has achieved a 70% 
success rate, that is seven out of 
ten of its ex-studehts have found 
work in the theatre, which com- 
pares very favorably with most 
other drama schools. The fa- 
culty has a staff of seven regulars 
and a number of guests. Paul, 
who is the course director, once 
made a commercial himself, in 
Australia, but he holds strong 
views on the incompatibility of 
modelling and drama. To date 
only one model, Leah Seresin, 
(see article) has gained ad- 
mission to the school, which 
may or may not be a reflection of 
its director's esteem for the pro- 
fession. Paul's views are sum- 
marised below. 


Seeing this on film she was able 

To conclude our feature on models and drama,- Model Journal visited The Poor to correct her faults 
School where we spoke to model turned actress, Leah Seresin and Poor School 

every model who attended the 

director Paul Caister. Then we returned to the Actors' Institute where we met two = .87^^^^ 

more models who have attended the Moving Image workshop. Finally we put Paul strong optionSi which me an S the 

Caister's views on modelling and drama training to Moving Image director Stuart ^^^lf™ st 
Mackenzie. The pros and cons of drama training are summarised at the end of 

the article; while we are (naturally) biased towards modelling, we think Stuart THE coNS 
makes out the more convincing case; the very least that can be said is that any 

model who has studied drama will have a head start over non- thespians when Modemngis 'lying' ;oc- 

he/she auditions for a TV commercial, while a modelling background can hardly ung is only pretending, 
be detrimental to a future career on the stage. 


LEAH 

24 year old Leah Seresin is an- 
other model who traded in the 
catwalk for the stage. Green 
eyed Leah, who stands 5 feet 7 
inches tall, started modelling for 
friends. When she was nineteen, 
she was signed by Z Agency for 
whom she did catwalk, editorial 
and advertising. Her magazine 
credits include Cosmopolitan 
and The Tatler. She has also 
made pop videos, including Boy 
George and the Blow Monkeys 

Leah has been a drama student 
with the North London drama 
school, The Poor School, for 18 
months and recently played the 
part of Felicity Rumpers in the 
riotous comedy Haebeus Corpus 
in the Duke of Cambridge 
Theatre presentation. She says 
she has now finished with mod- 
elling as a profession because 
she wants to be taken seriously 
as an actress, but she is still house 
model for Workers For Free- 
dom, last year's Designer of the 
Year. She would also do TV 
commercials if the opportunity 
arose, but her main concern at 
the moment is to get her Equity 
card. 

Leah says modelling and acting 
are completely different; a 
model has to look good and 
that's all! But she thinks model 
training might help in certain 
areas, in particular, performing 
better in front of the camera. 


Tim Cronin 


Tim Cronin was born in England 
but lived in Australia for ten 
years. He moved to New Zea- 
land aged fifteen. The son of 
middle class parents, Tim, who 
stands 6 feet 2 and weighs four- 
teen stone has been heavily in- 
volved in competitive sports 
including rugby. A natural 


'hunk' he is currently 
working in a gym as 
well as modelling for 
Gil Barber and stu- 
dying at the Actors' 
Institute. He has been 
in England for eight 
months and is curren- 
tly living in Stratford. 
Sometime in the not 
too distant future he 
intends to return to 
university to finish off 
his commonwealth 
law degree. 

Since arriving here he 
has been on several 
TV commercial cast- 
ings with no luck, and 
has done a mere hand- 
ful of modelling jobs. 
He puts this down to 
their being a glut of 
models and not much 
work about due to the 
current financial cli- 
mate, but says back 
home he was very 
lucky. He modelled 
for ten months, during 
which time he made 9 
commercials for New 
Zealand TV advertis- 
ing products as 
diverse as underwear, 
decorating equipment 
and crisps. 

Tim is very impressed 
with the Actors' In- 
stitute, and even more 
impressed with the 
Moving Image work- 
shop (see May issue). 
So too is his agency; 
when he took the 
Moving Image 
course. 6 or 7 other 
Gil Barber models 
went along. Accord- 
ing to Tim, it was bril- 
liant, helped his 
presentation enor- 
mously and everyone 
who attended got a 
good feedback of 
themselves, the direc- 
tors and each other. 


Of drama and modelling, Tim 
says they don't quite go hand in 
hand, but adds with refreshing 
honesty that for him this may be 
because he was never interested 
in modelling except as a means 
to make money and as a spring- 
board to bigger and greater 
things. In a small way this has 
already happened; through his 
modelling he got a walk-on part 
in a movie, but, he adds cautious- 
ly, in this country, models who 
turn to acting are stigmatised and 
have a hard time getting their 
Equity cards. He is not sure if 
this is because they are regarded 
as 'bimbos' to some extent or as 
Johnny-comer-latelies looking 
for an easy way in. Neither 
charge can be laid at his door 
however; as well as studying law 
he is attending as many acting 
workshops as practicable. 


Rebecca Cardinali 



Rebecca 


24 year old Rebecca Cardinali 
has always wanted to be an ac- 
tress, which is hardly surprising 
because her father, Roberto, was 
a famous Italian singer in the 50s 
with his own TV show, her 
mother was a dancer and her 
brother is a musician, so showbiz 
runs in her blood. Strangely, her 
parents disapproved, but they 
must be very proud of her now, 
because she is a very successful 
model and is well on her way to 
becoming an actress through 
modelling. 

Rebecca, who comes from 
Guildford, but now lives in 
Shepherds Bush, used to work in 
a unit for people with hearing 
difficulties. One day she was 
walking down London's Bond 
Street when she was approached 
by Valerie Askew of Askew 
Team. Valerie told her she 
would go down well in Japan, 


where Askew 's have a branch. 
Rebecca admits she wasn't too 
impressed but she went back and 
was indeed sent out to Japan 
where she spent four months and 
did very well. 

She has been modelling for 
about four years, and is now with 
another agency. Her credits in- 
clude working in Milan, TV 
commercials for Mystique per- 
fume and Malteasers (for Spain), 
all the usual girls' and women's 
magazines, contact lenses (also 
for Spain) and a very small part 
in an Italian play. Most recently 
she has made a commercial for 
Philips (which will be seen 
worldwide). 

Rebecca thinks acting and mod- 
elling very definitely go 
together, and is scornful of 
people who decry models for 
being 'so typical' for wanting to 
take it up. To her, models and 
actresses are both extroverts; it's 
the limelight they yearn for, 


whether it's being seen on the 
cover of a magazine, a TV com- 
mercial or a film. The nexus be- 
tween modelling and acting is 
beneficial to both. She knows 
some people who have made 
over fifty TV commercials, and 
says they both learn a lot and 
become very confident. 

Of the Moving Image workshop 
she says when she turned up on 
the first day and found it 
crammed with models she had 
reservations but these soon 
turned to admiration when she 
saw how the workshop func- 
tioned and how it visibly im- 
proved everyone's performance 
in front of the camera. 

Of herself she says,'. ...before, I 
used to bounce round the room 
and just be talking, and never 
stay in proper vision, move my 
hands a lot, and be too hyper 
(active). ...At the same time it 
seems okay, but on camera it 
looks s...' 


The purpose of the 
model is to 'sell' an 
image/product; the 
role of an actor in- 
volves bringing some- 
thing out in 
himlnerself which is 
already there and pro- 
jecting it into the char- 
acter he is playing. 

Modelling and acting 
are completely differ- 
ent art forms and there- 
fore totally 
incompatible. When 
done at the same time, 
this can result only in 
confusion for both 
roles. 

Models should not 
act; actors should 
not model. 


The Pros 

Stuart agrees with Paul 
Caister up to a point. 
He says modelling is 
two dimensional while 
acting is three dimen- 
sional, but stresses that 
the Moving Image 
workshop does not 
train models to become 
act ors. What it does do 
is give models enough 
self-confidence and 
enough know-how to 
correct their mistakes 
and to present them- 
selves as effectively as 
possible in the short 
time available at a 
commercial casting. 

America 
and Britain 
- the contrast 

In the States, actors 
and models realise that 
they have to stay one 
jump ahead of the girls. 
Competition there is fierce, 
so models have to keep doing 
workshops, improving their 
communication skills and 
keep abreast of the latest de- 
velopments. 

In Britain the attitude seems 
to be 7 go to a casting or 
show my picture and that's 
it. ' Unfortunately, it's not. 
Moving Image reaches a 
spontaneous type of acting 
and scratches the surface of 
serious acting. 

Attending a Moving Image 
or similar workshop will 
definitely improve your 
presentation skills and 
thereby your success rate at 
castings. 


MODEL JOURNAL June 90 


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